Christmas Trees Torched

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Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 1:06pm

Kansas tree farmers burn crop to stop spread of destructive fungus.

A fungus called Brown Spot Needle Blight has been affecting pine trees at Kansas Christmas Tree farms.

The fungus primarily impacts primarily the northwest side of the trees, causing the needles to turn brown and fall off.

The southern side of the tree will continue to appear normal and healthy.

This occurs because the northwest side of the tree does not receive as much direct sunlight, not allowing that side of the tree to dry out as well after extended wet periods creating ideal conditions for the fungus to grow.

Shawn Cregan of Cregan's Christmas Tree Farm near Silver Lake says that Brown Spot is devastating to Christmas Tree crops.

The trees need to be burned to keep the fungus from spreading.

You need to either burn the field or let it set for three years before replanting the trees because any needles that fall from infected trees are also infected and can continue to spread the fungus after the tree has been removed.

Cregan has lost between 5,000 and 6,000 trees, which adds up to about $250,000 in losses.

He is not the only local tree farmer being affected by the fungus.

Fortunately, Cregan says the fungus has only killed part of his tree crop, leaving plenty of Christmas trees available for upcoming holiday seasons.
 

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